What are the CAASPP/Smarter Balanced Assessments?

Recently, Upland Unified School District gave annual state assessments to students in grades 3-8 and 11th grades. These included new tests known as California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP)/Smarter Balanced Assessments. These computer-adaptive tests replace the former paper-based Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) tests. The CAASPP/Smarter Balanced Assessments measure our students’ knowledge of Common Core State Standards, which are California’s new learning standards in English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics.

In UUSD, one of our core beliefs is to focus on the whole child. State tests are only one measure of a student’s success in school. Smarter Balanced Assessments provide one measure of our student knowledge and skills along with classroom tests, assignments, and grades. We encourage you to keep these tests in perspective of our overall goals for our students’ development.

Why are new assessments needed?

With the adoption of Common Core State Standards, California has adopted more rigorous academic standards that emphasize critical thinking, analytic and problem-solving skills, as well as subject knowledge. Because what students need to know and be able to do has changed, our tests have changed as well.

How are CAASPP/Smarter Balanced Assessments
an improvement over previous statewide tests?

  • The computer-adaptive format adjusts the level of difficulty based on a student’s responses.
  • There is a wider variety of question types rather than traditional multiple-choice tests.
  • Students are tasked with demonstrating critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and applying their knowledge and skills to real-world problems.
  • Test results will be available sooner to teachers and parents.
  • There are embedded supports for English learners and students with special needs.

What results can we expect from the CAASPP/Smarter Balanced Tests?

How did the district prepare to handle the technical requirements of the CAASPP/Smarter Balanced Assessments?

To provide students with the best experience using this online test environment, our district did much advance planning and training. We ensured that necessary technological resources were ready for testing, provided in-classroom support for teachers as their students began testing, and promptly resolved any technical issues that students encountered with the testing software.